Built a century ago, in the time of the British Governor, Henry Arthur Blake, the Sanctuary at Tissawewa, known as Grand Hotel Anuradhapura back then, is a colonial style hotel that encapsulates undeniable old-world charm.
Tissawewa Grand became Tissawewa Rest House after Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Recently, in 2013, Quickshaws gave the hotel a makeover complete with extensive renovation and refurbishment and named it Sanctuary at Tissawewa. Today, the Hotel retains its colonial allure while also being equipped with all modern amenities.
Just a stroll along the veranda with its tall, white columns, overlooking the sprawling lawn, evokes a sense of grandeur that makes one want to wake up here, day after day, feeling like royalty.
Not surprisingly, these halls and rooms have been graced by royalty including Queen Elizabeth herself. Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew, and Moraji Desai, and President Zia Ul Haq are some eminent personalities to enjoy quickshaws brand of hospitality right here at Tissawewa.
“It stands on the south-west of the town on large grounds, once the government gardens. Numerous species of trees have been brought together here;… The hotel has all the charm of eastern style, with open verandahs and deep eaves; it faces north, a great consideration in this climate. At night the peevish whine of the flying foxes is heard in the trees and a myriad fireflies shone among the branches like wandering stars. From far off come the weird screams of a pack of jackals racing along the bund of the tank or searching for scraps round the outlying huts”. - The Lost Cities of Ceylon
“Dinner was especially delicious (at the Tissawewa Rest House). My God the food was good! I had fried Tilapia again, pol sambol (grated coconut and chili)- very hot, mallung (chopped green vegetables), wambatu (eggplant), dal and a special jak curry made from the fruit of the jak tree… Dessert was wattalapam, cashews cooked in coconut milk with jaggery (raw sugar from the kitul or coconut palm). Of course it was far too much, too late in the evening but too tempting to resist. I crawled in to bed before 11pm, satisfied by an exhilarating day”. - Woolf in Ceylon
“The Anuradhapura Rest House is now called the Tissawewa Rest House and I was looking forward immensely to returning there. It is a small place with an intimate feel - partly because of its antique colonial furniture and the period prints on the wall, which have been kept in place since it was taken over in 1965 by Quickshaws, a specialist Sri Lankan travel agency. We arrived there in time for lunch. Having eaten and dropped off some things, we went into Anuradhapura so I could photograph the railway station where Woolf had arrived a century before me.” - Woolf in Ceylon
Thanks to its colonial heritage, the Sanctuary of Tissawewa, also previously known as Tissawewa Rest House and Tissawewa Grand, is featured in historic literature such as ‘The Lost Cities of Ceylon’ by G.E.Mitton, and in ‘Woolf in Ceylon’ as Christopher Ondaatje walks in Woolf’s footsteps recounting the imperial days.